The Maturing Blogosphere of Early America

Next week, early Americanists will gather for the joint annual meeting of the Omohundro Institute and the Society of Early Americanists. On the first day of the conference (Thursday, June 18), I’ve organized a roundtable discussion on “The Maturing Blogosphere of Early America.” Here I’d like to introduce it and invite you to join us for the session.

To give you a little background, let me share the official program description:

Over the past ten years, writing online—in particular through blogs—has become a staple of public engagement for many scholars of early America. No longer a fringe activity, blogging is a core part of the identity of many scholars and provides a forum for presenting research, thinking through theoretical problems, and sometimes just having fun with early American history. This panel will bring together scholars at a range of career points to discuss some of the ways in which they have used blogging in their research, teaching, and service, and explore the strengths and weaknesses of early American history conversations online.

The panel will include:

To extend the metaphor in the description, conversations about blogging have become staples of conferences over the past two or three years. I’ve found these extremely valuable whether I’ve been in the room or following along on Twitter. Many of these conversations have centered around the question of how and whether blogging would count, and several explicitly addressed the question of whether blogging is scholarship. I don’t want to speak for my co-panelists, but I think they might answer that question in a variety of ways.[1]

This panel, though, aims to re-frame the discussion. Whether or not blogging meets the definition of scholarship (and I’d stipulate that for tenure and promotion purposes that definition varies among types of institutions), it certainly has become an established part of academic portfolios for scholars at all stages of their careers. Our goal, then, is to further the conversation by starting with the assumption that blogging is part of the scholarly life and discuss some of the ways in which we have approached online engagement. To do that, our panel includes a group of scholars at various stages of their careers (from a department chair to a very recently minted Ph.D.) who represent a range of approaches to blogging.

Some of us blog about our research. Some of us blog about teaching. Some of us blog as part of a service commitment to the profession. Some of us want to engage audiences outside of the academy. All of us think that what we’re doing is important and contributes to the scholarly conversation about the past.

We’re planning an open-ended discussion about the issues that come up with academic blogging and hope for a lively conversation with the audience. As of today, there are still spots available to pre-register (see the Institute’s website for details), but even if you don’t, stop by the room on Thursday afternoon and see if there are spots available. And if you can’t be there at all, feel free to participate here, on Twitter (the conference hashtag is #OISEA2015) or in what we hope will be some posts to come out of our conversation after the conference.

UPDATE: See below for information about how to sign up for the workshop if you’ve already registered for the conference:


[1] At last year’s OAH conference, there was a panel titled, “Is Blogging Scholarship?” For background, see Michael Hattem’s Storify of tweets, Ken Owen’s reflections here at the Junto, and my own comments.

5 responses

  1. As an upcoming senior (on the way to the bachelors) I very much appreciate the various blogs because they help to give an understanding of what’s up in American history, who to read, and what books to look at (I’ve happily mined the “seasonal reads” in the past). The amount of subjects that are up for a small article also helps broaden my ideas on what could be researched in any particular classes. The best part about blogs, however, is that I’m not stuck 3 years behind the folks that read the journals before they hit JStore.

  2. Unfortunately, I can’t be at the conference next week. But I just want to say that I regard the emergence of early American history blogs as a wonderful development. It fosters immediate scholarly exchange and a sense of connection with the profession as nothing else does.. I am really grateful to the many early Americanists who take time to blog and include us in their community.

  3. Pingback: Reflections on the Octo - Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

  4. Pingback: A Social Media Brouhaha: Talking about Blogging in Chicago - Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

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